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  • Writer's pictureAllie Sherron

Broken that the Light may Shine

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

“Here, then, is a treasure which God has designedly placed in earthen vessels for the definite purpose that the exceeding greatness of the power may be seen to be of God and not of man. The earthen vessel might seem to be an obstruction to the light which the treasure is. In some sense also it may assuredly be this. The vessel itself may need to be broken in order that the light may shine.”*

One of the few things that really takes my breath away is finding allusions to the Old Testament hidden within the New Testament. It really is such a special Book with one unified story from beginning to end. So when I began studying 2 Corinthians 4 in preparation for designing the Earthen Vessel watercolor collection, my heart may have actually skipped a beat at the discovery of a few casual remarks from Paul that unmistakably point back to Judges 7.

Let me summarize the background to Judges for you briefly to set the scene.

Setting the Scene

God's chosen people, Israel, were at one time enslaved in Egypt. God, through a man named Moses, delivered His people out of Egypt and promised to give them a new land. The people of Israel did not trust that God would protect them from enemies in this new land, and they were consequently forced to wander in the desert for 40 years. After those 40 years were over, God, through a man named Joshua, brought Israel into the promised land that would be their very own. God helped them defeat many of their enemies and conquer much of the land. When Joshua was nearing the end of his life, he reminded Israel of all that God had accomplished for them, charged them to cling to the Lord as they had done to that day, and warned them that if they instead clung to the nations which resided in the remaining portion of land left to be conquered that God would allow those nations to become a thorn in their side. After Joshua died, Israel chose not to drive out their enemies but instead to live among those nations in their land, and they eventually forsook the LORD and chose to follow other gods.

During this time in Israel's history, there was no king in the land and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. And when Israel did what was evil in God's eyes, He punished them by giving them over into the hands of the nations. But our God is compassionate, and His desire is for His people to have peace and rest in Him. So, He raised up judges to deliver Israel from their enemies. And the Lord was faithful to remain with the judge and deliver Israel from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge's life. But, like clockwork, when the judge died, Israel would turn back to their old ways and act even more corruptly than they had before. And the whole cycle would start all over again.

Judges 7: The Power will be of God

This brings us to Judges 7 which describes the period of time when a nation called Midian was oppressing Israel, and God raised up a man named Gideon to be the judge over Israel and deliver them from the hands of Midian. The story goes that Gideon along with 32,000 men who were with him got ready to fight, but the LORD said to Gideon,

“The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me,’” (Judges 7:2).

(The original Hebrew "would become boastful" literally reads "glorify itself against Me.")

This line.

It's what initially took my breath away. Let me show you why...

In 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 Paul says, "For God who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the GLORY OF GOD in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of THE POWER WILL BE OF GOD AND NOT FROM OURSELVES," (emphasis mine).

These verses are directly parallel!

glorify itself against Me -> glory of God

my own power has delivered me -> the power will be of God and not from ourselves

If that's not the coolest thing, I don't know what is. But it gets even better.

Judges 7: Earthen Vessels

So Gideon relieved some of the men until only 10,000 remained with him. But that was still too many for the LORD. So Gideon dismissed more men until only 300 continued with him. Then Gideon,

"divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers," (Judges 7:16).

(The original Hebrew word "pitchers" refers to"earthenware.")

Have you ever heard of walking into battle with just a trumpet and a fragile pitcher with a torch inside? I haven't. I mean maybe you could smack a few guys over the head with your trumpet, but an earthenware pitcher with a torch inside? One crack and it's useless. They might just be the perfect symbol of weakness and frailty. But as we read before, God wanted the power to be from Him and not from man.

Looking back at 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 we read, "For God who said, 'LIGHT shall shine out of DARKNESS,' is the One who has shone in our HEARTS to give the LIGHT of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this TREASURE in EARTHEN VESSELS, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves," (emphasis mine).

Again we have a parallel with 2 Corinthians 4:6-7!

torches -> light, treasure

earthenware pitchers -> darkness, hearts, earthen vessels

If you can believe it, it keeps getting better.

Judges 7: Broken that the Light may Shine

Gideon assured his army that the LORD would give Midian into their hands. So, taking their trumpets and pitchers with torches inside, Gideon and his men went to the outskirts of the Midian camp. When they had just posted the watch,

"they blew the trumpets and smashed the pitchers that were in their hands. When the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands," (Judges 7:19-20).

When the men blew their trumpets and raised their torches, the LORD caused the Midian army to turn their swords against each other, and their army fled. And the land of Israel went undisturbed for 40 years.

Continuing on in 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 we read, "WE are AFFLICTED in every way, but not crushed; PERPLEXED, but not despairing; PERSECUTED, but not forsaken; STRUCK DOWN, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the DYING OF JESUS, so that the LIFE OF JESUS also may be MANIFESTED in OUR BODY. For WE who live are constantly being DELIVERED OVER TO DEATH for Jesus’ sake, so that the LIFE OF JESUS also may be MANIFESTED in OUR MORTAL FLESH. So DEATH works in us, but LIFE in YOU."

See one last time, there is a parallel with 2 Corinthians 4:8-11!

smashed -> afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, dying, death

held the torches -> life of Jesus manifested, life

the pitchers -> we, our body, our mortal flesh, you

I could show you more parallels between the two passages, but it seems unnecessary. They mirror each other. Paul was, without a doubt, thinking about Gideon when he wrote 2 Corinthians 4.

So, what does it mean?

It means that every child of God, every earthen vessel, weak though she is, has a treasure which is the Light and Life of the Lord Jesus Christ dwelling inside her for the sole purpose that the power may be of God and not of herself.

It means that every child of God, every earthen vessel, beautiful though she is, must be broken but never ruined, lost, nor wasted, in order that the Life and Light of Jesus may shine for all the world to see, bringing God glory and the vessel the sweetest joy she could ever imagine.

What does it look like to be broken?

For Jesus, it was the cross.

F. W. Grant says, “The badge of the cross is to be borne by the disciples of it. That is God’s way of working, and it is the cross in this sense also which is to win men to God.”**

I have to believe that I'm not the only one who can relate to wearing and carrying the badge of the cross. We all go through trials and tribulation. Every follower of Christ will suffer for His sake. So, I want to encourage you to really meditate over these last two passages of Scripture, paying special attention to the highlighted portions which encourage us to fix our eyes on Jesus, our Life and Light, at all times but especially during our most difficult and painful times.

Hebrews 12:1-3 exhorts us, "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

And James 1:2-3, 12, 17 says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance... Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him... Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."

My Heart for You

My greatest desire for you right now is that you remember throughout the day that Christ is the true Light who shines in and out of you, His earthen vessel, and that you, the earthen vessel, constantly carry the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus might be revealed through you. So, write these verses on a notecard and place them on your kitchen table, tape them to your bathroom mirror, or carry them in your pocket. How remarkable would it be if someone sees your notecard and it starts a conversation about Christ, the true Light, and the abundant and everlasting life available to them through Him?

And if you feel compelled, you can find my watercolor paintings of the earthen vessels for sale in the Desert's Sage shop.

*F. W. Grant, The Acts to II. Corinthians. The Numerical Bible (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, 1899), 549-50.

**F. W. Grant, The Acts to II. Corinthians. The Numerical Bible (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, 1899), 550.

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